21 June 2018
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families at risk of involvement with the ACT Child Protection System will be able to access Functional Family Therapy for the first time following the announcement of a 12-month trial today.
More than 40 Canberra families will benefit from the trial, which will run in partnership with local Aboriginal organisation Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation and OzChild.
The aim of the trial is to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people entering or remaining in out of home care through culturally specific interventions that strengthen families and communities.
Chief Executive Officer of OzChild Lisa Griffiths said OzChild was thrilled to be partnering with Gugan Gulwan and the ACT Government to deliver Functional Family Therapy in Canberra.
“It is exciting to be part of the Government’s continued commitment for better outcomes for Aboriginal children and families,” Ms Griffiths said.
“Functional Family Therapy has been proven to be successful internationally, and locally, we have observed significant benefits for families and their children who participate in the program.
“The results from culturally diverse populations widely support the model’s efficacy in working with children and families with multiple and complex needs, including family violence, mental health, and parental drug and alcohol abuse. Most importantly it keeps children and families together while dealing with challenging issues.”
The ACT Government, Gugan Gulwan and OzChild will jointly fund the program. Gugan Gulwan and OzChild have a background of quality service provision and innovation and have the expertise to deliver the trial.
Kim Davison, Executive Director of Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation said the program, initiated by OzChild and supported by the ACT Government, will provide family-based therapy for families with children and young people aged 0-17 who are at risk of entering the out of home care system.
“The program aims to strengthen families preventing the removal of a child or young person as well as supporting re-unification of a child or young person from care and is a culturally adaptive short-term family-based program,” Ms Davison said.
“I was delighted when OzChild approached Gugan Gulwan to propose that we partner with them on a program aimed at stopping the removal of Aboriginal children from their families.”
“Working with the whole family is the only way to resolve the family issues that can lead to children being removed from their families.
“We need to adopt and support this family-based approach, because every time a child is removed from their family, that is a failure of the system to keep families together.
“We appreciate the ACT Government matching OzChild’s contribution to get the program off the ground.
“As the program progresses, we will be looking for an ongoing commitment to funding, to ensure that a family-based approach is always the first step in any process that deals with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
“Like all Canberrians, we want to see all children thriving within their family environments.”
Functional Family Therapy complements A Step Up for Our Kids, the ACT Government’s five-year reform strategy for out-of-home care.
The trial is a demonstration of the ACT Government’s commitment to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care.
The Minister for Disability, Children and Youth Rachel Stephen-Smith said she was excited about this partnership with Gugan Gulwan Youth and OzChild for the Functional Family Therapy trial.
“This flexible program assists at-risk families with children and young people aged 0-17 and supports reunification of a child or young person in care with their family,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the answers. It is up to governments to listen to them and recognise the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led solutions.
“Gugan Gulwan will bring important cultural insights to the program, as well as strong connections to Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”